Monday, December 22, 2008

"Don't let it be anymore"

As many as my friends are well aware, my efforts toward greater sustainability, community-oriented responsibility, and recycling has intensified greatly over the past year. After taking the first course installment, this past summer--called "People and the Environment I"--I began to ask myself many questions about why we do the things we do, and what comes next. Individual responsibility should and does come first when creating a social movement. My mission toward reuse, recycling, and "recollecting" refuse is a fire inside my core anymore. Look forward to reading about the internal conflicts I put myself through. I never denied that I wasn't a little crazy.

Anyway, I started reading about a small neighborhood called City Airport, outside Detroit, which has really bitten the dust since the 1960s and 1970s. It is where many auto workers once lived. But when plants began to close, whites moved out, blacks later moved out--now it's a hodgepodge of drug dealers and the dreadfully poor. Everyone is afraid to leave their hiding places; the neighborhood park and former school are abandoned and decrepit.

The following article is from a man who began writing for the Detroit News about the misfortunes and small victories in this struggling neighborhood, where only four to five homes remain on each street. There was an man who found an abandoned tire after returning from a barbecue in the park. He decided to take individual responsibility and roll it to the nearest dumpster.
Somebody hit a ball over the backstop and across French Road during a batting-practice session at Fletcher Field last Sunday.

A little pooped from the previous day’s festivities – our second annual barbecue at the park – I was just watching from the bleachers along first base. So I got up, crossed the road, found the ball in the high grass along the City Airport fence line and then tossed it back into the park.

On my way back to the bleachers, I spotted a discarded tire near the Fletcher Field fence line and decided I didn’t want to leave it there. I put the tire back on its treads and started to roll it toward a dumpster on the Gilbo side of the park, which was put there the day before for cleaning up after the barbecue.


It took me about 5 minutes to get to the dumpster, with the tire wobbling most of the way and falling altogether occasionally. I then picked up the tire and heaved it upward to get it over the dumpster’s 8-foot wall. Before I did this, I should have checked the interior of the tire.

It was full of dirty water, which splashed all over me – hair, face, shirt, pants. I was a mess.

As I headed back toward the baseball diamond, somebody along the route took one look at me and asked me what happened. I told him of my stupidity, that I should have known the tire was full of water.

He then offered this: “Why didn’t you just leave it (the tire) where it was?”

For some reason, what he said struck a sour note with me, really fired me up.

“That’s the problem,” I shot back. “Everybody leaves it.”

We just can’t leave it anymore.
Michael Happy is his name. He bares no resemblance to the animated character Mr. Happy, but I like this guy.

[Extended reading:, UTNE Reader, "Bloggers vs. Blight: An online community beats back urban decay in Detroit"]

Now I would have rather that tire made it to a recycling facility, but in a place like City Airport, you do what you can. Anywhere else though, where resources are more plentiful, there's this:

Many cities in the United States have already started using rubber sidewalks in select areas, improving visual aesthetic in neighborhoods, prevented the razing of curbside trees in sidewalk buffers, improved walkability of the sidewalks--in terms of pedestrian health and route viability--and greatest augmented tree root health and drainage. Regional city Hamilton, OH seemed to be working towards implementing rubber sidewalks in its historic Rossville neighborhood, but I'm not sure what happened with the effort. The next time I'm in Chicago (12/31!), I'll be looking for their own rubber sidewalks, located near the Chicago Center.

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